Thursday, March 10, 2011

The photographic brain

I woke up this morning having another nightmare.  Ok, I don't know that they are nightmares so much as horrible memories that come in the middle of the night.  But I realized that I had not told him everything.  So I laid there until he woke up and then told him about that first Saturday night in the hospital.

There was a canister looking thing they had put under his bed.  It had a flexible plastic tube, about 3" in diameter going into the canister.  Actually looked like a huge pressure cooker.  Stainless steel.  Sealed tight.  That hose went to his rear end. He was on c diff precautions and I know they were collecting whatever he was passing.  What I didn't see was where/how the 3" tube decreased in size to be entered into his rectum.  So of course....there's the "nightmare".

But he also had a cath in his penis.  He had a round rubber ball at the end of a tube coming out of his back that was draining blood.  His stomach was distended beyond belief (was it uremia?) and his tongue was coated with about 1/16" fur that was olive green and brown.  Getting 6 ltr of oxygen, and 6 IV bags going into him.  He had been NPO at this point for 6 days and the NG tube was going down his nose pumping putrid brown stuff into a 2 ltr tank on the wall.  His creatine was at 8.8 that day, he had the dialysis port in, plus several other iv pic lines going in him.

I didn't take any photos.  Other than the one I took of his 3" thick chart (didn't think anyone would believe me in the day of technology that anyone still manually charted!).  But the image of him that night is forever embedded in my brain.  I remember telling my sister that when I leaned over him, I smelled the smell of "death" coming up out of him. In trying to describe that to him this morning - rather difficult.  How does one describe the smell of death?  Vile, rotton, inhuman, something you don't smell anywhere/anytime.

I told him that I remember being so afraid because he was so distended that I thought for certain the staples in his incisions, both front and back would come flying out and that he would burst wide open (another recurring nightmare!).  He was literally that physically distended. To this moment, I don't know what kept the staples intact during that time.  He said that he did remember being distended, but that mostly he remembered his tongue and wanting to die because it was so swollen and so dry.  Well, it may not have been dry so much as it was hairy and I'm sure that no mater how many ice chips he sucked on or sponge swabby would have felt horrible.

Amazing to me how the brain sees things just like it was looking at a photograph. I hope in time the memory fades. Ok, I hope that the brain comprehends that it is just a memory and that I can make it through the night without seeing the "photograph".  Would be a very good night.

But I'm also hoping that in sharing more and more of what I remember with him, he will know what a complete miracle it is that he is here today, that he has made such a speedy recovery, and that even if it takes him 6 more months to regain all of his strength, he is a living, walking, breathing miracle!



Lilly said...

After reading your description of how bad things were, I'm thinking I would have nightmares too if I were in your shoes. It is truly a miracle that he is still here! Take care, and may you get a GOOD night's sleep.

Lynn Barry said...

WOW...I don't know what to write other than WOW...thank you for sharing it are pretty amazing. HUGS and LOVE